fall over and fall down

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Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
"The cascade falls over a tall cliff."


Hi everyone, have you ever seen a cascade falls over a tall cliff? I suppose here it will be better to change "over" with " down", am I right?


Thanks
 
  • brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Over implies some change in direction (trajectory), whereas down implies a constant direction.

    In the case of a cascade/waterfall, both occur: first, the water flows in a river to the edge of the cliff, then it goes over the cliff (changes direction from forward/horizontal to downward/vertical), and finally falls down.

    To be honest, I think to fall over the cliff sounds better because it implies that the water is still touching the cliff. A cascade doesn't technically fall down the cliff because, once it's falling down, it no longer touches the cliff.

    To give another example: you'd say water trickled down the side of the glass, or a person climbed down the wall of the building, because the water and person are both touching the glass and building, respectively. However, if a person fell off of a building and down to the ground, you wouldn't say he fell down the building because he's not touching the building as he falls. Instead, you'd say something like, he fell from the building.

    One exception would be falling down a well, but in that case the person/thing is within the well, and so even if there's no touching involved, the person/thing is still not beside the well, so down is still appropriate.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Over implies some change in direction (trajectory), whereas down implies a constant direction.

    In the case of a cascade/waterfall, both occur: first, the water flows in a river to the edge of the cliff, then it goes over the cliff (changes direction from forward/horizontal to downward/vertical), and finally falls down.

    To be honest, I think to fall over the cliff sounds better because it implies that the water is still touching the cliff. A cascade doesn't technically fall down the cliff because, once it's falling down, it no longer touches the cliff.

    To give another example: you'd say water trickled down the side of the glass, or a person climbed down the wall of the building, because the water and person are both touching the glass and building, respectively. However, if a person fell off of a building and down to the ground, you wouldn't say he fell down the building because he's not touching the building as he falls. Instead, you'd say something like, he fell from the building.

    One exception would be falling down a well, but in that case the person/thing is within the well, and so even if there's no touching involved, the person/thing is still not beside the well, so down is still appropriate.
    Hello, Silver. I just wanted you to know that I think Brian has done a great job of explaining the differences between "down" and "over". :)
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Over implies some change in direction (trajectory), whereas down implies a constant direction.

    In the case of a cascade/waterfall, both occur: first, the water flows in a river to the edge of the cliff, then it goes over the cliff (changes direction from forward/horizontal to downward/vertical), and finally falls down.

    To be honest, I think to fall over the cliff sounds better because it implies that the water is still touching the cliff. A cascade doesn't technically fall down the cliff because, once it's falling down, it no longer touches the cliff.

    To give another example: you'd say water trickled down the side of the glass, or a person climbed down the wall of the building, because the water and person are both touching the glass and building, respectively. However, if a person fell off of a building and down to the ground, you wouldn't say he fell down the building because he's not touching the building as he falls. Instead, you'd say something like, he fell from the building.

    One exception would be falling down a well, but in that case the person/thing is within the well, and so even if there's no touching involved, the person/thing is still not beside the well, so down is still appropriate.

    Thanks for your elaboration on my question, I will read it more than I can.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Why do you think "down" would be better, Silverobama?

    How SS, I would be very happy here if someone actively asked my question towards my questions, let me try to tell you why I considered it shall be "down".
    As far as I am concerned, "over" implies "cross" and "via" while "down" simply means "downward", then I imagine if I am standing on the mountain top I see the cascade falling, I might not see where it comes from but I can see it falls down along the cliff, this is my humble opinion, I know, I do know there must be other explanations, but I am not good at three-D, so I can only tell you this.
    I pondered over each question before I am here, since I profoundly understand that I oughtn't to take up others' time just because of I am stupid.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Silver. You certainly can say that "I stood at the bottom of the cliff and watched the water falling down". Here, "down" is an adverb. I wouldn't hesitate to use the word "down" as a preposition in "I watched the water coming down the hill in a flash flood." Here, "down the hill" means "in contact with the hill", which is a distinction that Brian made in his fine explanation. When we speak of a cliff, however, we tend to think of the water going "over" the edge of the cliff and falling through space on its way to the ground. As this falling water is often in no contact with the face of the cliff, we use "over" instead of "down".
     
    Last edited:

    Tazzler

    Senior Member
    American English
    "Over" here indicates that the water passed the edge of the cliff. The water has to start at the top, right? ;) Look at this definition: c. Across the edge of and down: fell over the cliff. So you see that "down" is included in the meaning, but "over" also indicates that the object was at the top of something, the something it was on ended but the object kept on moving, and so went down.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    To be honest, I think to fall over the cliff sounds better because it implies that the water is still touching the cliff. A cascade doesn't technically fall down the cliff because, once it's falling down, it no longer touches the cliff.
    Hi,
    After reading all the replies, I still find this paragraph confusing. This post's conclusion is that

    over the cliff = no longer touch the cliff.
    down the cliff = touch the cliff while it's down.

    But this paragraph seems to imply both mean "touch the cliff". Am I misunderstanding something?
     
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